In October, I led a group from our church to visit and serve our Impact Partners at Mustard Seed Network. Our group of fourteen was responsible for the kid’s programming at Mustard Seed’s annual team retreat. We played games, sang praises, memorized Scripture, and read the Bible with the kids. We drank coffee, discussed life, and laughed with their parents.
It was a joyous time of fellowship and an honor to serve and visit with the one hundred and twenty people who make up Mustard Seed Network. If you’re unfamiliar with Mustard Seed Network they’re an organization planting churches in the unreached, urban cities of Japan. They’ve planted churches in the cities of Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Sendai, Tokyo, and beginning in January 2023, Hiroshima.
Once the annual retreat was over our group headed to Tokyo to spend time with the Tokyo church planting team to learn about and pray for their ministry in the city.
On Sunday, our hosts took us to the top of Shibuya SKY. Atop this massive skyscraper one has a bird’s eye view of the largest city in the world, home to thirty-seven million people. Tokyo seemed to stretch on endlessly beyond sight. As I looked out over the city I was overwhelmed with a sense of mourning for Tokyo. In that city and across the country of Japan ninety-nine percent of the people don’t know Jesus. Japan is the second largest unreached country in the world.
To be honest with you, it was an experience that filled me with sadness. I was mourning the reality that, as it stands, the overwhelming majority of Japanese people will experience eternity apart from God.
In that moment I found it entirely appropriate, somewhat comical, that our host opened the Bible and read from the Gospel of Luke. She read about the time Jesus had a bird’s eye view of a different city: Jerusalem.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”LUKE 19:41-44
If things were to continue the same it seems that the hope of the Japanese people to know Christ is little. And yet, things aren’t staying the same. The response to the startling reality of the unreached in Japan is giving me great hope.
Mustard Seed Network is fervently working to recruit missionaries and raise up Japanese Christians in their churches to start new churches in other major cities in Japan.
In December of 2020, a young couple were among those missionaries recruited by Mustard Seed Network and called by God to move to Japan in order to help start churches so the unreached could be reached. You may recognize their names:
Tanner and Delaney Salva
It’s because of the work God has done and will do through people like Tanner and Delaney that the spiritual landscape of Japan can change, that revival can come for one and for many. We’re highlighting the Salvas this month at Christ’s Church to provide an opportunity for those of us who would like to support their ministry to do so.
I’d like to encourage everyone who calls Christ’s Church of Oronogo home to consider supporting the Salvas through prayer and/or financial generosity. We may not be on the ground in Japan learning the language, planting the church, or rubbing shoulders with the unreached, but we can be supporting those who are. We need to be supporting those who are.
What’s the reward? A heavenly city more populated than Tokyo and blessed with the presence of the King. I think the Japanese who come to know Christ will feel right at home in this eternal city. The Apostle John writes about his vision of Heaven in the book of Revelation.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”REVELATION 7:9-10
There will be people in Heaven who at the very moment you’re reading my words do not know Jesus. How is that possible? Because people like Tanner and Delaney have moved to an unreached people to reach with them with the Gospel of Christ and they’re supported by those of us back home in their mission to do so.
Written by Drake Holderman • Missional Impact Minister
Tanner & Delaney Salva
The Salvas are church planters working with Mustard Seed Network to plant churches in urban Japan. Japan is one of the most unreached countries in the world where 99% of the people do not know Jesus. Currently, the Salvas are working at a church plant in Tokyo.